Reality Bites: If only Donald Trump had Modi’s ‘Godi media’ to fall back upon
The US media unanimously condemned the US President’s role in instigating the mob. But in similar situations, what have Indian institutions been doing ?
On the 7th of January, 2021, India woke up to a sight it is familiar with: hordes of armed hoodlums clambering over a monument, intent on only one thing: destruction. The difference was that the unruly mob was mostly made up of white Americans, and the monument was not a religious structure but a temple of democracy: the US Capitol. Hey, we even caught a glimpse of the Indian flag waving among all those confederate flags. Now if it had been a saffron flag instead of the tricolour, we would have felt completely at home with the scenario.
I’m ashamed to say that most of us in India could not stop laughing once the shock of seeing an attempted coup in a first world nation faded. Particularly when our Dear Leader, the man who yowled “Ab ki bar, Trump Sarkar” at the ‘Howdy Modi’ rally in Texas, and organised a special ‘Namaste Trump’ election rally for his bestie Dolan in Gujarat too, condemned the violence on Twitter. I cannot stop grinning like the creepy Cheshire Cat in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ when he condemns violence.
Several international journalists and columnists mocked the Dear Leader’s condemnation tweet too. My favourite tweet was by Michael Kugelman, South Asia Senior Associate of the Wilson Centre: “Narendra Modi has weighed in on today's attempted insurrection in the US. I think this means he has locus standi to comment on America's internal matters.”
Kugelman was taking a pot shot at External Affairs Minister Jaishankar’s favourite admonition to world leaders: “You have no locus standi to comment on India’s internal affairs.” You absolutely must Google ‘Jaishankar + No locus standi’ to get an idea of just how often he has said it!
In between the laughter, we sneered at our gutless, spineless, brainless mainstream media. Headlines from America were bold and strident: “Trump Incites Mob”—the New York Times squarely put the blame on him, like responsible media should. Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post did not shy away from naming and blaming him either, with “Trump-incited mob storms U.S. Capitol” and “Trump mob storms Capitol”.
Compare that with our wimpish media. They have had so many opportunities to name and shame our Dear Leader for inciting hatred before and after 2014, but no, they lightly dismissed all his bigoted statements. Even that horrific one during the anti-CAA protests—the one that said those indulging in arson "can be identified by their clothes".
Our Dear Leader has never been blamed for anything, oh no. He’s tenderly wrapped in baby soft cotton wool in summer, and pretty ladies’ pashmina shawls in winter. At the most, the wicked people who surround him and lead him astray are blamed: bureaucrats, members of the PMO, his Man Friday, beard-groomer, wardrobe assistant, parrot-trainer, etc.
What India’s mainstream media is good at, though, is promptly taking cues from the Dear Leader. If he condemns anything they must scramble to condemn it too, and many virtuously carried outraged articles (syndicated) from the US media. This includes media houses that support, actively defend, and justify mob violence in India, heh. What we’re looking at is the Dear Leader cracking the whip on the media to go all out to make the incoming US government forget how shamelessly he cosied up to Trump. I can assure you that all those photographs of him clinging to Trump like a needy koala bear will be swept off his office desk and parked in a private place, like his bedside table instead.
Just imagine how television discussions would play out if America had our kind of Godi media:
1. Members of the Proud Boys and other Alt Right groups would be invited to their shows.
2. They would be introduced as grave political analysts.
3. There would be at least three of them in a panel of four.
4. The anchor would heartily agree with Alt Right panelists and blame the Democrats, the Antifa, the Left, African Americans and other groups for the violence.
5. At the end of the show, viewers who had initially been disgusted by Trump’s attempted coup may well have shed tears over “Poor maligned Trumpji”.
I’m shedding tears too. I suddenly wish I were an American. How absolutely wonderful it would be to live in a country where institutions can cut megalomaniacs down to size!